The Debate Over Lowering Income as a War Tax Resistance Strategy
This letter comes from the
edition of In These Times, twenty-five years ago
Marcia Yudkin’s “Pocketbook
Pacifists” (ITT, )
is a good article showing the diversity of the war tax resistance movement.
However, I don’t agree with Alan Eccleston who was quoted as being wary of us
resisters who live on a non-taxable income. Many of us choose to live in
“voluntary poverty” effectively to show our opposition to the spending of our
tax dollars for the military. We do this because we know that not one cent of
our money goes toward the race toward human extinction; unlike Eccleston,
from which the military eventually gets its money and then goes forward to
produce killing machines. Military tax resistance, whatever its form, is just
a means. The end result is to gain support for spending for human needs
(peace) and to end the threat of self-annihilation.
Brad Ott New Orleans
I reproduced a letter from Jonathan Evans, in his role as
clerk of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, to the New Jersey legislature about
a militia law they were considering that would have required Quaker
conscientious objectors to pay a fine into a fund destined for educational
To the Convention of Delegates appointed to revise the present Constitution
of the State of Pennsylvania, now sitting at Harrisburg.
The memorial of the representatives of the religious Society of Friends,
commonly called Quakers, in Pennsylvania,
That the principles and sentiments of our religious Society, respecting war
and bloodshed, having been often published to the world, and at times fully
made known to different legislative bodies, it does not seem needful at this
time to go into much further exposition of them; but seeing that public
bodies invested with extensive powers may be made greatly instrumental in
aiding the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
we are engaged in religious concern to draw your attention to this one great
object, the true ground of happiness and prosperity of every state and
government: for as it is righteousness which exalteth a nation, so it is God
alone who can make the sincere labours of public functionaries a means of
preserving the orderly establishment of civil government, and securing to the
people their just rights and privileges. As we cannot from principle, which
we believe is founded upon the doctrines and precepts of our Holy Redeemer
and his apostles, join in any measures or service promotive of war; so we are
alike restrained from paying any fine or tax which may be imposed as an
exemption from such requisitions.
It is not from a selfish motive, or desire to be excused from bearing our
share of the useful burdens of the community, or to avoid the hardships and
danger incident to military operations; for we have always been willing
freely and fully to contribute our portion to whatever may conduce to the
common weal in civil society; and it must be obvious to any person acquainted
with facts, thnt it cannot be from a penurious or illiberal disposition, as
the distraints made upon our property are manifold more than the demands
exhibited against us; but we consider it of solemn, indispensable obligation
to keep the injunctions of the Supreme Lawgiver, that as He came not to
destroy men’s lives, but to save them, so his faithful followers, under the
influence of the same spirit, will be engaged to promote love to all, and
violence to no man. We therefore hope you will make such provision for the
religious scruples of tender consciences as shall be evident it is merely a
concession to Christian principle, not limited to any classes or persons.
With desires that you may be favoured with a measure of that wisdom which
comes down from above, enabling you to overcome the numerous difficulties
which we are sensible must attend your important engagement, we remain your
Signed in and on behalf of a meeting of the representatives aforesaid, held
in Philadelphia, .
Jonathan Evans, Clerk.
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